U.S. importers these days, especially small ones, are counting every penny, and the dragged-out expiration of a long-time duty-free program for certain goods sourced from developing countries is starting to take its toll.
Capitol Hill lawmakers allowed the so-called Generalized System of Preferences to expire on Dec. 31, and have yet to reauthorize the program, despite mounting pressure from the Obama administration and import industry.
The intent of GSP is for the United States to lower its trade barriers to increase developing countries' economic activity. Importers get the benefit of working with a variety of sources and bringing goods into the country at zero duties. Without GSP, most of these imports would be assessed duties in the range of 1 percent to 9 percent.
Since GSP's expiration, it's estimated U.S. importers are paying as much as $2 million a day in duties.
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